The Nobel Peace Prize went to the European Union for its post-1945 promotion of peace and democracy on a continent where war had been the norm for hundreds of years.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded this year’s Peace Prize to the European Union, in a nod to its record of building peace and democracy on a continent long roiled by war – and perhaps as a reminder of the need to stay the course in troubled times.
The choice surprised many speculators, who had widely tipped an East European human rights activist or promoter of inter-religious dialogue. Although a candidate for the award in the past, the EU was regarded as less likely this year because of the widening economic crisis among some states in the 27-member economic and political union.
But Thorbjørn Jagland, Norwegian Nobel Committee chairman, told journalists gathered at the Nobel Institute in Oslo that the union and its forerunners deserved the prize for having “contributed over six decades to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy, and human rights in Europe.” He said the prize was both recognition of the EU’s early role as a peace broker between Germany and France, but also to mark the EU’s recent progress in the reconciliation process in the Balkans.